Savage gives us his thoughts on Spain’s Primera División as El Clasico could put an end to the title race
Barcelona v Real Madrid
Sun 19 Mar 20:00
There can be no finer occasion to decide a title race than a meeting between the two giants of Spanish football. If Barcleona take the W this time around even the most ardent Real fan could not envisage their team overturning a 12 point deficit with 12 games to play. That being said, this is Real Madrid and as many of Europe’s top teams have discovered in the last 12 months with this team there is always a chance. Few people could have anticipated when Barcleona were manhandled by Los Blancos in the reverse fixture in October that it would be over 4 months before the Catalan side lost another league match. Even fewer would have believed that Xavi’s charges would have such a commanding lead over the reigning league and European champions.
The biggest injury concern for either team is the doubt surrounding Karim Benzema. The Frenchman limped out of the win over Liverpool in midweek having netted the winner not long before. Given the high-stakes nature of this clash it is likely that Ancelotti will risk his top scorer even if he is not 100%. The home side will be without Dembele and most likely Pedri but their lineup will remain largely unchanged from recent weeks.
Goals have been in relatively short supply for Blaugrana lately but that has not stopped them getting results when it has come down to it. Thankfully for the hosts, goals at the other end have been in even shorter supply. They have conceded just eight so far and only a single Joselu penalty has crossed Ter Stegen’s line in over a 1000 minutes of football at the Camp Nou. At the other end Raphinha has been having an outstanding 2023. Since the turn of the year the Brazilian has been involved in 12 goals (7 goals and 5 assists) including the match winner in both of his side’s previous two fixtures. It would be no surprise to see him turn up with another important contribution this time around.
Madrid are averaging 2 goals a game but have been held scoreless in 2 of their last 3 away fixtures. In fact their away form has not been particularly spectacular this season and they have recorded just 3 wins in their last 7 on the road in La Liga (W3 D1 L3). That certainly does not bode well as they head into a must win El Clásico that could well dictate the rest of their season. Given the imperious nature of Barcelona’s defense, in particular on home soil, this will be a monumental challenge even for a side as good as this current Real team.
Barcelona To Win @ 6/5
Both Teams To Score – No @ 23/20
Raphinha Score or Assist @ 13/10
The above in a treble is best priced with Betfair at a little over 12/1.